(NewsNation) — For some residents, Chicago is more dangerous than Afghanistan was for U.S. troops during the Iraq war, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medicine Association.
The study found that young men are more likely to be shot and killed in ZIP codes with the most violence than American soldiers were in Afghanistan or Iraq.
Specifically, in Chicago’s 60624 ZIP code, the homicide rate for young men is more than 1,200 for every 100,000, and it’s not the only ZIP code with numbers like this.
The average annual deaths per 100,000 for American soldiers who were heavily engaged in combat numbered at 395 in Afghanistan and 330 in Iraq.
Dr. Brandon Del Pozo, one of the researchers behind the study, said Chicago has had crime issues and high homicide rates dating back to the 1990s, often times being dubbed as “Chiraq,” as a trope referring to the war in Iraq.
“As a person who was in New York City police officer in the ’90s, I thought it was possible that that lived up to the reputation, but we wanted to do the math,” Del Pozo said. “At one level, we weren’t entirely surprised, given the concentrated levels of violence in cities like Chicago.”
Meanwhile, Del Pozo said they also compared crime statistics to other major cities including New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, but Chicago had the most acute problem.
“Compared to Afghanistan, the risk was about four times as high in the worst neighborhood, we found similarly, Philadelphia, had greater risks than more. But on the other hand, New York and LA no matter where you look, the risks were nowhere near as acute as serving in combat,” he explained.
Del Pozo said the violence in both Chicago and Philadelphia is “fairly concentrated and it is high.”
“Overall, the fatality rate in Chicago is not quite as bad as it was in the in the ’70s, in the ’90s. In these neighborhoods, it is as bad as it has ever been, and it’s as bad as it’s ever been in Philadelphia,” he said. “So there’s something about the intense concentration of the violence in these areas.”
One factor contributing to crime in Chicago is easy access to illegal guns. In 2021, more than 12,000 illegally owned firearms were taken off the streets, The New York Sun reported. In 2022, it was more than 10,000.
When it comes to finding a solution, Del Pozo said: “I think that the leaders in all of these cities are acutely aware of the violence problem. I think bringing firearms under control, I know that it’s top of mind of every elected official and I know there’s an election coming in Chicago, so a lot of people are thinking about it.”